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Poster: ducats Date: Jun 6, 2009 5:35am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What If I Only Listened To 1968?

is it possible that at the time PIG was the leader of the band?

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jun 6, 2009 7:44am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What If I Only Listened To 1968?

Not if Sputnik has anything to do with it...

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jun 6, 2009 12:09pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What If I Only Listened To 1968?

By '68 Pigpen was already getting phased out to some extent....

In '65/66 Pigpen was the main 'frontman', in image at least; as far as singing the songs, Garcia may have been more the leader of the band, but the r&b stuff they started out with was Pigpen's home for sure.
Trouble for him was, in '67 they started doing all these jam-songs and phasing out the old covers, so Pigpen didn't have many songs left to do in a show - fortunately they also added Lovelight & Alligator, so he'd have at least two big pieces in each show for the next few years.
'68 saw him at kind of a low ebb in the band, he starts out the year contributing a lot of keyboard as he'd been doing, then sort of gets quieter later in the year, until they kicked him out for a while and put in Tom Constanten instead.
So starting '69 we have him restricted pretty much to a couple set-closers, a couple blues - they were such huge pieces though, that's still like half the show, so folks in the audience would still see him as a co-frontman, if not the most important guy in the band. Later in the year they started adding more r&b stuff again, like Hard to Handle & Good Lovin' & Easy Wind, so that added a lot more variety & toughness to the band's setlist for a couple years.

I'm probably overstating Pigpen's restricted role in the band - in '65/66, as Garcia & early fans have said, people saw him as the most talented guy in the band and the most natural leader; and no doubt even in '71 lots of folks would wait anxiously through a show for him to come out & do Lovelight or Caution again....

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jun 6, 2009 12:32pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What If I Only Listened To 1968?

You really do know this shit...well summarized as usual. You're getting to be like the 60s Celtics when it comes to Credenza Awards around here; you have so many and nobody else ever comes close...

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Poster: ducats Date: Jun 6, 2009 12:36pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What If I Only Listened To 1968?

so it sounds like you would agree with me that PIG was the first leader of the band - with the fat man being the second and last?

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jun 6, 2009 3:33pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What If I Only Listened To 1968?

Actually, I think the whole idea of the band was there wasn't a "leader"....it was supposed to be a democracy.
Which is not to say it always worked that way. Jerry, by virtue of having the strongest personality & musical drive, was easily going to be ahead of the others in the early days, even if he tried not to be bossy. Phil turned out to be both ambitious & bossy, so you could say by '68 he and Jerry were co-leaders.
Pigpen? I don't know how the band came across in '65....we don't have any recordings til Nov '65 (not very representative), nothing live til '66 - and in early '66, they're very primitive, but improving very quickly - so it's hard to imagine what they were like in mid-'65. Anyway, in '66, Pigpen doesn't really have the "main" role in the band, whatever he was doing on all the Stones covers in '65.

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Poster: Styrofoam Cueball Date: Jun 7, 2009 11:45am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What If I Only Listened To 1968?

I was thinking about this 'leader' stuff while listening to 10/29/77 (AKA "Grendel's Choice, Vol. 1") the other night. While Jerry wasn't the 'leader' per se, as far as onstage playing goes (especially in the latter days) if he starts getting 'excited' in his playing, the rest of the band ALWAYS responds and starts playing harder, tighter and more interestingly. No one else in the band ever propelled them in this way, even Kreutzmann.

In the early days, when Pig starts going nuts vocally, this also seems to provide that same sort of 'rising to the next level' feeling that I am feebly trying to describe here, but only once in a while. Jerry did this all the time, he starts noticeably getting into it, and everyone follows. Does that make any sense? :\

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jun 7, 2009 1:39pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What If I Only Listened To 1968?

Not sure...would have had to see them all to gauge the interactions. Certainly we have talked about the great back and forth between Jerry and PP (MHr: "that's it...play your guitar!"), BUT what always struck me about the DEAD from 74 to 82 is that they literally could've have been cardboard cut-outs on stage for how little "life" they had in them...seriously.

For most all of my friends that I tried (and succeeded for about 40%) to "turn on" this was the one thing they harped on ("they are so lifeless!" "are they just old??" "why don't they get excited?", etc., etc.). There were occasional exceptions, but in general, you couldn't have guessed anyone had any impact on anyone else on stage if your life depended on it...other than rare glimpses and nods to one another...

I overstate the case, but only slightly.

When my friends would see the Who, or Police, or even Stones, they would come back talking about people jumping around on stage, etc.

I actually used to retort that the lack of interaction was indicative of how seriously they focused on the music...like BBKing sitting down or what have you...

Not saying that it should have been one way or the other, but the early era banter, feedback (when they are moving to and from amps/speakers/etc) and the rest made them seem so much more alive...

And, gives me a sense you could imagine one feeding off the other...

Also, love that "Grendel's Choice" morsel!

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jun 7, 2009 2:47pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What If I Only Listened To 1968?

I recall reading fans of the "early days" who went to see the Dead in late '71 or '72 and complained about how lifeless the band was all of a sudden, compared to how they'd been before.... Keith must be the culprit!
Well, it must have been gradual...playing larger venues, more distant crowds, Pigpen fading out, the music getting more countryfied. The main difference you can hear on the tapes is how much less banter there is in '72.

Of course, there's not really a correlation between a peppy demeanor and fiery music....after all, if you watch films of one of your favorites, Clapton in Cream, all he does is stand there, maybe grimace sometimes, hardly even nods to the audience.....but that guitar howls.

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Poster: Styrofoam Cueball Date: Jun 8, 2009 10:49am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What If I Only Listened To 1968?

Energy isn't necessarily represented by jumping around on stage. Look at early live Beatles concerts, where they do "Twist And Shout". You'd think John would be jumping around like a maniac, considering his paint-peeling vocal on that number, but he barely moves his head, much less his butt. Yet we hear all this incredible energy and aggression in the vocal. Same goes for the Dead: you might just see them standing still, but what you're hearing is some incendiary The Eleven that is taking off like a Sabre jet... :)

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Poster: Liamfinnegan Date: Jun 7, 2009 8:13pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What If I Only Listened To 1968?

Grendel's Choice- Now that is a funny one!!

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Poster: Styrofoam Cueball Date: Jun 7, 2009 10:23pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What If I Only Listened To 1968?

I actually have this show labeled "Grendel's Choice" in my GD collection, as numbers tend to boggle my mind. If it weren't for him, I never would have known about this show and it's awesome NFA/Black Peter (which I'm listening to again right now!) :)